I am not a total Scrooge, and have written some Christmas tales. Here is a wee segment – though a huge event – from The Elephant Talks To God:
“I want to see you,” said the elephant, and the words raced from his mouth. “I don’t have to see you, you know that. I’ve believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you, it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain but it would … “
“Go home,” said the cloud.
“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.
“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.” The rain stopped falling. “Thank you for coming.”
“You’re welcome,” said the elephant.
“Sing some carols,” the voice was distant. “I like them.”
The elephant turned and started through the woods.
He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach and the tall grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he could join the singing he knew was happening later in the evening.
He turned along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noticed the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest.
He slowed down, and then stopped in his tracks.
He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush. There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp.
Tears rolled from his eyes, and a golden trunk gently wiped them away.
In my novel, A Lost Gospel, a Unicorn is present at the birth of Jesus.This is something – as far as I know – not disputed by religious scholars. Glarus, the Celtic priestess who accompanied the Unicorn, describes this event to Bettine and Sirona, themselves young women attending unicorns. Glarus was asked to be present at the birth by the astrologers seeking the Baby. We know of them as the Three Wise Men, or Kings.
“The kings had some information, but the rest they had to figure out. They had
surrounded themselves with astrologers, navigators and philosophers. They knew
from the Jew’s Holy Book that the baby was to be born in Bet Lehem, and the Star
helped lead them to that town. We didn’t need the Star the last couple of days, but
it had given us comfort during a hard and uncomfortable trip. That last night we
waited on the outskirts of the town, and went in after sunset.”
“Were you afraid?” Sirona leaned closer.
“No. Why would I be?”
“You were going to see god.” Bettine glanced at Sirona as she spoke.
“To see God is a joy – not a fear.”
“And was he a baby?” Sirona giggled. “A baby god.”
“It was a time for the paying of taxes to Caesar, and Bet Lehem was crowded with people.” Glarus examined the fire for a moment. “The inns and resting places were fully occupied. We finally found Yeshua and his parents in a barn, beside one of the inns. He was settled with the animals, and sleeping in the hay.”
“But this was a god.”
“But – ” Bettine sounded perplexed. “He should have been in a temple – or a palace. Not surrounded by animals.”
“There are more barns than palaces.” Glarus nudged the wood in the fire with a poker. “And more animals than priests. God is god of the world – not some carved gold in a temple.”
“But god can have whatever he wants.”
“Yes.” Glarus leaned forward and touched the young woman. “So remember what he chose.”
“What was god like?” Sirona was impatient, and pulled on Glarus’ skirt.
“God was the baby of a woman. A baby such as any of us could have.” Glarus looked at them closely. “You must not forget that. This god is as much man as god.” She stood suddenly and leaned toward the fireplace. “He was asleep when we entered. Even his mother was dozing as she held him.”
“What was she like?” Sirona didn’t realize one question interrupted another.
“Her name was Mary.” Glarus removed the pot from the open flame, and placed it upon a squat stone jutting into the hearth. “She smiled as her head nodded – she seemed quite peaceful. She was attractive, but not what one would call beautiful. She didn’t seem much older than me.” Glarus looked mildly surprised. “She could still be alive, for that matter. She certainly seemed healthy enough.”
“Did she talk to you?” Sirona leaned forward, the heat of the fire against her face.
“She spoke to the ones who knew her tongue.” Glarus looked down at the women. “But no – not to me.” She suddenly smiled. “I saw her glancing at me a few times, as her husband talked to the others. And she took a liking to the unicorn – as did the baby.”
“Did she – “
“What I felt most was her bewilderment.” Glarus didn’t realize she had interrupted Bettine. “She must have wondered why rich and powerful people were crowding into a barn to see her son. Giving birth for the first time was enough to get used to.”
The women were silent for awhile. Glarus stirred the pot, and tasted the liquid in the ladle. Bettine looked curiously around the house, while Sirona stared thoughtfully at her mother. She was hearing things she had never heard before.
“When did the baby wake up?” Bettine’s question broke into the silence.
“We hadn’t been there long.” Glarus began moving about the room, gathering mugs together, along with food and utensils. “I think I was the first to notice. I just followed the lead of the unicorn, which already was walking toward him.”
“Did he touch the unicorn?”
“Yes.” Glarus took a loaf of bread from a cupboard, and removed some wedges of
cheese from a pottery jar. “It was obvious Mary had never seen such a creature. I
don’t think she was afraid, but she was hesitant to let the unicorn get too close
to the baby.” Glarus ladled the hot drink into the mugs. “However, Yeshua reached
out with his tiny hands, and tried to touch the ivory horn.”
“Did he touch you?” Bettine sipped the drink, and found the fruit tasted as if it were off the tree.
“Mary let me hold him, as she and Joseph prepared some of their food for the kings.” Glarus passed the platter of bread and cheese to the young women. “Food less grand than this. But still, the best of what they had.”
“You held god in your hands?” Sirona marvelled at the secrets she had never heard.
“Yes. While the others ate.”
“What was it like?”
“Damp.” Glarus looked at them both and laughed. “He was a warm and wet little baby, open-mouthed and smiling one moment, squeezing up his eyes in frustration the next. I still had the smell of myrrh on me, and he pushed his face into my breast, making contented baby noises. To the others, it looked as if he were trying to get fed. Joseph said something which made the others laugh.” Glarus chuckled as she took a bite of cheese. “When I finally heard what it was, I smiled too, even though I was embarrassed.”
“What did he say?” Sirona and Bettine asked the question together.
“Well. It’s no secret I’m big up here.” Glarus placed an arm across her chest. “I’ve had too much attention from too many men to let me forget.” Glarus cut more slices from the loaf of bread. “Joseph had said, that if the baby became too used to me, they’d have to use one of the cows after I left.”
“What did you say?” Sirona shared a glance with Bettine.
“It wasn’t my place to say anything. Anyway, I could tell he wasn’t trying to be offensive – or attentive. He was a poor man surrounded by rich and powerful strangers, and he was trying to be accepted.”
“Did Mary say anything?”
“Mary did not push out her garment, even if she was full of milk. After the laughter had stopped, I dared glance at her. She gave a shy smile and shrugged her shoulders.”
“If you hadn’t gone the way you did.” Bettine dipped her mug back into the flavoured drink. “Without following the star and the kings – would you have known Yeshua was a god?”
“No.” Glarus sipped from her mug, then placed it on the table. “But the circumstances were not natural.” Glarus hesitated before slicing more cheese. “The unicorn would not have been present, and I would not have seen them share time.”
“What did he do?”
“Both.” Sirona was excited. “When they were together.”
“They looked at each other with recognition.”
“But – ” Sirona coughed over her drink. “They had never seen each other before.”
“They saw more than just the bodies they possess.” Glarus placed her hands side-by-side on the table, almost touching. “When Mary realized the unicorn would do no harm, she held the baby this close to him. Yeshua reached a grasping little fist toward the ivory horn.” Glarus smiled at the two women. “You know how the unicorns avoid a stranger’s touch.”
“Yes.” They both again spoke in unison, and laughed.
“He bent his head carefully toward Mary, and let the tiny fingers rub against his horn. Yeshua’s eyes went wide as he sniffed him all over. The unicorn pawed in the dirt and the straw, and as much as his face is capable of smiling, I’d swear that he did.
“He didn’t even mind when Mary began to scratch him behind the ears. He moved his head so she could stroke the base of his horn, which he loves most of all.”
“I didn’t know of that place for years.” Bettine absently rubbed her fingers across the table. “I hesitated a long time before I even touched the horn. It can be so cold.”
“They don’t encourage contact,” agreed Sirona.
“Perhaps I was jealous. He encouraged Mary and the baby to do things for which I had waited years.” Glarus looked into the fire a long time. “He showed complete trust amid the strangers and the tumult. Usually, just the smell of humans and other animals make him disappear. This time, he ceased being wary, and concentrated fully on that little baby.”
“And Yeshua?” Sirona stared at her mother. “What did he do?”
“The baby turned his head, and stared at me.” Glarus again hesitated. “It was then I knew that I was looking into eyes which had seen the OtherWorld.”
It has been my odd experience to have twice lived across the street from a huge, lighted Cross.
The first appeared to be the height of three men standing on each others shoulders. It was across a wide field and a road, from where I used to house-sit a number of occasions over the years..It was in the yard of a private dwelling, and was (so I was told) a memorial to a relative who had died in a mine disaster.
When the sun went down, it came on. Whether someone in the house turned it on, or light sensors on the edifice gauged the amount of darkness, I do not know. The street was a dead end street, so there was not a lot of traffic. However, if I so chose, I could get the full benefit of it. It shone brightly for hours onto the front of the house. And into the house if one was in one of the front rooms or bedrooms. It had a blue hue, and an unrelenting vibrancy that made one eventually think of neon. I didn’t so much think of spirituality or practicality, but did wonder at the waste.of money and resources for – let’s be honest – so little effect. I also (somewhat uncharitably) assumed that the cross did not shine forth from both sides, and the folk in the house behind it were not affected.
Then, years later, I found myself in another house, across another street, from a giant cross left alight all night. This cross did not shine directly into the house, but slanted more along the street, and not across it. It is affixed by mighty metal stanchions and stays atop a huge Evangelical church. When darkness comes, its emblazoned light can be seen across a whole city and, by my reckoning, into the hills beyond. I am not certain, but I also imagine it can be seen by ships at sea.
But, both crosses bestow upon me the light of the Lord, and I’ll happily take whatever blessings might be granted.
The Coronavirus makes strange bedfellows. Or – maybe not. World wide doom, and destruction, and Jesus perhaps go hand-in-hand. The One is there to cancel out the other.
At any rate, yesterday I was in search of a mailbox. To mail an actual letter. It is possible it was the first *actual* letter of the year. And a bit time sensitive. There was no going to the Post Office, it being Sunday and a Pandemic to boot. So I went searching for a local mail box.
I imagine at the best of times I’m not fully aware of the closest mail box. There used to be one at the closest gas station, but that had been totally renovated and the mail box removed. The next closest was at the local Mall, but walking there revealed the Mall was closed, since everything inside was closed. So a search began.
It made sense that any area where there was a grouping of buildings might have a mail box. Passing a Donut Shop (open to take-out only) and a Library (closed) and a bar (closed) yielded nowhere to mail a letter. However – in the distance – down the hill and across the road, there seemed to be a stark red box. It was in front of a large Seniors Complex. Perhaps Seniors mail more letters. Investigation eventually showed it was a Mail Box, and into its maw went my tiny envelope. To be picked up next day. So I hope that has now happened.
On the way back, after a well-deserved sit on a bench in a small park (more than two meters / six feet away from anyone else), upon coming closer to home, music filled the air. Guitars and drums and female voices singing (at the first encounter) what sounded like Joan Baez songs.
However, upon entering a new street, it was apparent that the large church, with its commanding view of the city, was having an outside church service in their expansive parking lot. Cars parked a safe distance apart, with men wearing orange safety vests making sure the rules were enforced. The musicians and singers were under a portico at the front of the church, and they were belting out hymns aplenty. Heard, I am sure, across much of the city..
Unicorns are mentioned eight times in the Holy Bible. So – there they were. The list is below.
Therefore, when I have Druids, and their affiliated unicorns, go to Jerusalem in my novel A Lost Gospel, to make sure Jesus gets crucified, I feel I was on solid ground. And when one of my druids, Ogma, has the following experience, I believe it possesses a symmetry of Biblical proportions.
Unicorns are mentioned in the following places of The Bible:
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
From A Lost Gospel
“Are you lost?”
Ogma was taken by surprise, but he did not turn toward the speaker. He had no desire to start a conversation, he just wanted to be left to himself.
“Yet you are a traveller to these parts.”
Ogma knew only too well the interest local people had for strangers in their midst. It was an interest which could easily turn into suspicion. He was alone, and he did not want to have trouble in this unknown land.
“I had business in Jerusalem.” Ogma shrugged. “The desire came upon me to feel earth under my feet, not paving stones.”
“And you find yourself here.”
“I turned from the main road at a whim.”
“What did you in Jerusalem?”
“I do not intrude thus in your life.” Ogma kept a steady gaze across the field, though he could not keep irritation from his voice.
“Yet you do intrude – for here you are.”
“If I’m on your land, I apologise. I thought it was a common road. There is no barrier in place to warn me otherwise.”
Ogma wondered if it was time to leave the way he had come, or to stay and talk. Despite the words spoken, the other man’s voice displayed no anger, or annoyance.
“Do you find no peace in Jerusalem?”
“I’ve had a troubled time in your grand city.”
Ogma suddenly realised he had things he wanted to say, which he could not discuss with the other druids. He finally turned to the man, wondering if he should explain further.
“By the gods of death!” Ogma stood back in fear. “This is not possible.”
“There are no boundaries to what is possible.”
“I saw them hang you up.”
“You saw flesh. And blood.”
“Then what do I see now?”
“More than a man of sorrows.”
“Glarus was right.” Ogma began to move further away, but stopped himself. “I’m not to fear you, or the change you bring.”
“Truth deserves acceptance, not fear.”
“Do you know of my burden?”
The other man raised his arm and pointed. Ogma turned to follow the outstretched hand. He saw the two unicorns standing close together among the trees.
“Have they brought me here?”
“They have led you to a place you sought yourself.”
“You know of Glarus.” Ogma stopped abruptly, and his voice lowered. “The gods I understand believe in trade. Take me instead of her.”
“You care so much?”
“I know the worth of things.” Ogma stared directly at the other man. “It is better to have her alive than me.”
“No man knows his own worth.” Yeshua touched the small man, then held him close. “My father’s love does not barter.” He released Ogma with a smile. “Return to Jerusalem. You travel with companions.”
“The beasts accompany me?”
“Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
The Elephant was not oblivious to the Christmas season, and wanted to pay his respects. He travelled to the special clearing where a cloud waited for him.
“It’s your Son’s birthday, I want to congratulate him.”
“Thank you.” The cloud descended further. “It is a grand time.”
“I’d like to …” the elephant hesitated.
“You sent your son for us to see, so we would believe.”
“Well, I want to …”
“Spit it out,” said God. “You’re fired up.”
“I want to see you.” The elephant spoke quickly. “I don’t have to see you, you know that. I believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you; it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain, but …”
“Go home,” said the cloud.
“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.
“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.”
“Thank you for coming to see me,” said the elephant.
“Sing some carols.” The voice was distant. “I like them.”
The elephant turned and started through the woods. He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach and the rich grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he could join the singing at the Mission he knew was happening later in the evening.
He trotted along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noted the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest. He slowed down and then stopped in his tracks. He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush.
There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp. Tears rolled from his eyes, and the golden trunk touched his own, and gently wiped them away.